Joel Mays III

Joel Mays III, he is a private chef, educator but not the normal one that we know of, he’s a culinary educator and he’s doing his best to educate our communities of the importance of proper diet and nutrition. Joel not only focuses his expertise in culinary within the kitchen but also ties it into his running journey as well. This month we discuss Joel Mays III and his journey, this marathoning and most importantly his why in what makes him continue to work so diligently to be the best version of himself.

MSM: We’d like to say thank you for taking the time to speak with us here at Mid Strike. For our readers, tell us a little bit about Chef Mays. 

Joel: My name is Joel Mays III born and raised in Washington DC. I am 39 years old and live in Dallas Texas. I am a Private Chef and Culinary Educator. I am a devout Muslim and I love my family. 

MSM: Everyone has a journey, before you began running consistently, what was your fitness journey like and where did it begin for you? 

Joel: I started getting into fitness at a young age for football, wrestling and baseball. I attempted to be a basketball player but all I wanted to do was grab rebounds and jump out of bounds like Dennis Rodman. He was always and still is my favorite player. After joining the Army my fitness journey evolved into weight training and running. With a mix of martial arts and tactical movements. A Lot of ice baths and massages later I started to become more familiar with ways to heal after so many intense workouts. 

MSM: As runners, we all have those crossroads in our lives when we cross that proverbial fork in the road. What was that point in your life when you made you really focus on your health and well-being?

Joel: The pivotal point for me was running after my oldest son Kaleb and I could not keep up with him. He was only five years old and was moving so fast. That's when I knew something had to change so I got back into the gym routine with an emphasis on cardio and lifting lighter weights. 

MSM: Representation matters and is key in our communities ESPECIALLY when it comes to young men and strong black men defeating the narrative when it comes to physical fitness. Do you find yourself inspiring others to be the best versions of themselves not only with working out but also with life and most importantly with yourself being a chef and culinary educator?

Fitness can take you everywhere you want to go, it can remove us from those stores that do not sustain our nutrition and allows us to venture away from the norms of our childhood.

Joel Mays

Joel: The inspiration comes in so many forms! I post my runs and training, the good and the bad. The men and young men who watch my journey get inspired to see that the average guy who does not look like a runner is running marathons. Training in the Texas heat and doing 100 miles plus miles each month. It feels surreal when I get a text or message from someone who tells me they want to pace with me or they ask questions on how to get started. Fitness is therapy, fitness is freedom and its joy. So many of our young black men don't know how to get healthy. They live in the hot cheeto and fried food era thinking that it will sustain them. So when I cook for anyone they can see that healthy food does not have to taste bad. I can make a pepper chicken with a light soy glaze and brown rice taste like your favorite Chinese food without the guilt lol. For my students, I am opening their eyes to a whole new side of life and flavor that was dormant. My journey changes the perspective on what it means to eat clean and train hard. 

MSM: Our communities are so undervalued when it comes to what is accessible, we don’t have access to healthy supermarkets, juice bars or even fitness centers as we essentially find ourselves traveling to the gentrified neighborhoods to access those gyms. You seem to give a bright light to all of the above by being a leader in changing the narrative of each of the above. What have been some of the things you’ve worked on through the years to create that change not only from a runner’s perspective but also as we mentioned above with being a culinary chef?

Joel: Fitness can take you everywhere you want to go, it can remove us from those stores that do not sustain our nutrition and allows us to venture away from the norms of our childhood. As a chef ingredients are the life source behind the food so certain stores become the catalyst in the creation. As a runner, it feels good to run in our neighborhoods so our people can see that we are here and changing for the better. We don't have to go settle for less and can just lace up our shoes and get active. Get moving to live a better adulthood than we did as children and show that elders can reverse the stigma of “black people don't run”, we don't do anything besides eat unhealthy food and pass on, just to leave the same cycle for the next generation. FORGET THAT MESS, I am here to be better in my 40s than I was in my 20’s and let my 50s feel like I never missed a beat. The undervalued communities need to see more of us giving back, having health summits and encouraging regular checkups with physicians. Treating ailments and learning how to really just live. We may not have access to everything but we have to find a way to make the journey for betterment a norm, not a hindrance. 

MSM: I want to talk about your journey into the culinary world as it's not an easy one to get into. Not only that as we all know being black if we want to venture into a world that's not familiar to us we need to fight and will ourselves to get to that goal. What was that like for you early on and some of the roadblocks that you faced?

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